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B19/1992 1991/92 RENT VERIFICATION EXERCISE
DATE OF ISSUE: 8 May 1992
1991/92 RENT VERIFICATION EXERCISE
The purpose of this instruction is to inform you about the rent verification exercise to be run in May ? June this year.
2.In the 1988?89 Budget the Government signalled its intention to require rent assisted pensioners to provide proof of rent details. This was consistent with the approach adopted by State housing authorities when providing subsidies under the Mortgage and Rent Relief Scheme. The issue was raised again in the 1990?91 Budget and the Government decided to conduct an annual review of pensioners in receipt of rent assistance.
3.Both the Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Department of Social Security (DSS) began their 1990/91 rent verification review towards the end of 1990. Each department determines its own timing for such reviews however, and DSS pensioners may not be reviewed simultaneously with service pensioners. DVA will start its 1991/92 review this month.
4.The objective of the Rent Verification exercise is therefore to support the announced Government policy of ensuring that rent assistance is paid only to those pensioners who are financially disadvantaged because of high costs of rental housing. By checking evidence of rent details the Department verifies compliance with the legislation. The amount recorded as rent in the service pension assessment must accord with:
a)the definitions of rent given in s.5N(2) of the VEA
andb)the amount actually paid for accommodation.
5.Service pensioners who fail to provide proof of rent details by the due date will have rent assistance cancelled automatically.
6.Rent verification forms are to be sent to service pensioners currently in receipt of rent assistance except for those with Residential Situation Codes of MI (Medical Institution or nursing home) or RV (Retirement Village). These groups are considered to be "low risk" clients and will be excluded from the verification exercise on the basis that it is unlikely their residential situation will change. Even if they change address, they will continue to pay for accommodation in almost all cases. In the case of illness separated couples, neither partner will be rent tested if either partner has a Residential Situation Code of MI or RV.
7.The exercise has been scheduled for May 1992 on the following timetable:
9 - 10 May — Program to generate forms for clients in the target group.
11 May — Rent verification forms and advices will be sent.
12 May — Number of rent assisted clients will be counted to help later evaluation of the exercise.
12 June — Due date for return of forms
13 ? 14 June — Program run for cases still in FS ("Form Sent") status will:
a)reduce Rent Assistance to NIL;
b)send automatic Rent Assistance cancellation advice;
c)set Special indicator to identify reduction as due to Rent Verification exercise.
15 June — Second count of rent assisted clients.
20 July — Final count of rent assisted clients.
8.A special P.I.P.S. processing code, S154, will be used for the exercise. Examiners will be able to use the Case Create facility for those cases where manual examination is needed to decide whether a form is to be sent (i.e. rent verified) or not. The attribute will default to ROUTINE unless the examiner sets it to COMPLEX or INVOLVED.
9.Cases should be advanced to Registration stage as soon as the completed form is returned. Particular care must be taken to register forms received on the "due by" date i.e. 12 June 1992. If these caes are not in Registration by close of business that day, rent assistance will be cancelled when the program is run on the weekend. Where no change in Rent Amount or Residential Situation has occurred, examiners should take the case directly from Registration to Case Finalisation stage.
10.When a client writes or telephones to ask for more time to return the form, the examiner should advance the case to Investigation stage, with a reason for the delay being noted. If the form is not returned by the end of the extended period, the examiner should change the Residential Situation code to 'CR' and submit the case for determination. In this way, rent assistance will be cancelled (use current payday).
11.Cases still in Form Sent status will have rent assistance automatically cancelled when the run is done. A special Residential Situation Code of CR will be applied to cancel rent assistance due to the pensioner's failure to return the form. If the pensioner later submits the completed form and rent assistance is restored, the Residential Situation Code is to be amended. Examiners should note that the code (CR) is to be used only in cases where the form is not returned.
12.As a general rule, where rent assistance is cancelled and later restored the date of effect is to be payday after receipt of the completed form. However, delegates should use their discretion to allow an earlier date of effect if this is warranted by the circumstances of the case.
13.Schedules of cases requiring manual examination will be produced. Forms will not be produced in the following cases:
a.date of death recorded
d.overseas (including Papua New Guinea cases)
f.Special Register cases
14.With regard to (b), examiners should send forms if the pensioner informs the Department of a new address (unless it is clear that rent is no longer paid). Forms should be sent if disability pension only is suspended (c), and where appropriate for cases in Frozen status (e).
15.The automatic cancellation of rent assistance is in effect a decision to reassess the rate of service pension payable. This means that
(a)a Delegate of the Commission must be satisified that pensioners' circumstances have changed and they no longer qualify for rent assistance; and
(b)that there is a right of appeal against the decision.
A schedule of cases with rent assistance cancelled will be sent to each State, and should be signed by a Delegate. Notice of the right of appeal will be included in the cancellation advice.
16.The following performance indicators will be used to test the effectiveness of the verification exercise:
.cost incurred (including case processing by Branches);
.savings realised (net rent assistance reductions); and
.degree of pensioner non?compliance uncovered.
By taking "snapshots" of the rent assisted population before and after the event we can find both the number of clients losing or gaining an increase in rent assistance, and the $ amounts involved. Inevitably, some clients will complete the verification form after the due date and then have rent assistance restored. For this reason a couple of data matches will be run at intervals after the cut?off date for cancellation.
17.Reports produced from the Selective Review System will be analysed to evaluate the effect of the exercise on the DVA rent assisted population on a State by State basis.
18.A copy of the Rent Verification form and advice to pensioners is at Attachment A. When rent assistance is cancelled due to the non?return of the form by the due date, a special advice paragraph is to be included in the daily advice produced. A draft advice is shown at Attachment B. It includes a Right of Review paragraph.
19.Colette Woodford is the project manager. Enquiries on systems related issues should be directed to Raelene Lihou (telephone 06? 289 6799). For other enquiries the contact officer is Helen Mackinnon (telephone 06? 289 6426).
6 May 1992